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Sundance outlines aggressive coronavirus-testing requirement for many festival-goers

Employees, volunteers, artists, industry figures and press must show proof of negative result

Peter Mayhew, technical director at the Egyptian Theatre, changes the marquee at the theater ahead of the Sundance Film Festival in 2019.
Park Record file photo

Sundance Film Festival organizers will require many people in attendance in Park City in January to show proof of a negative test for the novel coronavirus when they arrive and then submit to additional tests depending on how long they stay at the festival and what activities they plan, an especially aggressive step designed to guard against the sickness spreading at the first in-person Sundance during the pandemic.

Sundance outlined the testing requirement as part of a broader explanation of health protocols. The testing aspect had not been widely publicized prior to the posting of the health protocols. The testing requirement does not apply to regular film-goers, people attending festival-sponsored talks or people visiting festival venues.

The categories of attendees covered by the testing requirement include festival employees, festival volunteers, artists, industry figures and the press. Employees and volunteers are required to be tested when they check in and Sundance is encouraging them to be tested every 48 hours they are at the festival. Artists, industry figures and members of the press must be tested within 48 hours before arriving or when they arrive. Sundance encourages contractors and people attending as part of a sponsorship to take a test within 48 hours of arriving at the festival.



Sundance, meanwhile, will require people who must be tested to upload the results to a verification portal managed by a third party. When the results are uploaded, they will be put on a timer of 48 hours, starting at the time of testing. Once the 48 hours is over, the person will be required to be tested once more before they are allowed to enter an event that requires the testing.

Sundance will provide free tests — PCR and rapid antigen — to people in attendance and people who live in the community. Sundance will also accept testing approved by the Food and Drug Administration that show a date and time but cautions many so-called at-home tests will not qualify since they lack a method to officially show the date and time of the test.



Organizers have placed a negative-test requirement within 48 hours of an event on people attending receptions or seated meals with 20 or more in attendance. The same requirement was placed on artists, casts, programmers and others who will participate in press lines or question-and-answer sessions during in-person screenings.

Sundance plans to operate locations called “vax verification and testing hubs.” The locations were not finalized by late in the week, but the organizers said possibilities include festival headquarters at the Sheraton Park City and City Hall land off the Kearns Boulevard-Bonanza Drive intersection.

People who test positive for the coronavirus will be prohibited from attending any Sundance events.

Sundance in the summer outlined a requirement that people attending screenings or other festival events in Utah in 2022 be vaccinated. Masks are also required. The testing is in addition to the vaccine and mask requirements.

Sundance is in the final weeks of planning for the festival, which is scheduled to run from Jan. 20 until Jan. 30. The event in Park City will be scaled back significantly from the pre-pandemic period with organizers eliminating three local screening rooms, the Music Cafe, the Festival Co-op and the sponsor village. The corporate presence along Main Street — official and nonofficial — is expected to return for Sundance, but it is highly unlikely the number of temporary setups will match those of earlier festivals as businesses weigh budgets and health protocols.

The festival will be a hybrid with an online presence complementing the live events in Park City. All in-person events were canceled in 2021 out of concern for the spread of the coronavirus.


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